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WWDC 2012: Apple Launches New MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Notebooks, Including Retina Display Model

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At WWDC 2012, Apple’s first priority – asides from its usual spot of boasting – was to reveal upgrades to its MacBook lineup of notebook computers.

MacBook Air 2012

First up was the MacBook Air, which will be improved with a number of specification bumps. For starters, the processors will be the latest Intel Ivy Bridge chips, which are much faster and capable when it comes to demanding media applications.

The new MacBook Air range will feature USB 3.0 connectivity for speedy file transfers to external devices, along with up to 8GB of RAM and SSD hard drives of up to 512GB. The FaceTime video camera has also been updated – it now shoots in 720p HD quality. Both 11 and 13-inch versions will be available as before, but the prices will actually drop. The 11-inch version starts at £849 and the 13-inch starts at £999.

MacBook Pro 2012

As we’ve heard plenty about, Apple also announced a brand new MacBook Pro range. As with the Air, the processor has been updated to Intel’s Ivy Bridge range, with the top model clocked at 2.7GHz and Turbo Boost-able to 3.7GHz. For the first time Apple has really upgraded the graphics, opting for Nvidia’s latest Kepler architecture with GeForce GT 650M graphics, with certain models featuring 1GB of dedicated video memory.

USB has also been updated to 3.0, but that’s about all. No Retina Display, or was there?

‘Next Generation MacBook Pro’

After teasing us with some seemingly similar MacBook Pro models, Apple proudly revealed something they were calling the ‘next generation MacBook Pro’.

This laptop is basically as thin as the MacBook Air at 0.71-inches thick, and weighs under 4.5lbs. It’s also got that killer feature that’s been rumoured to death – the Retina Display. The screen size is 15.4-inches and the resolution is an eye-popping 2880 x 1800, with a pixels per inch ratio of 220ppi. As Apple proudly pointed out, this is the world’s highest-resolution notebook display. Blacker blacks are also touted, and the glare aspect has been reduced by 75%.

A laptop with a screen of this quality would be nothing with lower resolution software and imagery, so Apple has updated most of the native applications such as Mail and Safari, and also professional apps such as Aperture and Final Cut Pro.

Processing power comes from Intel Ivy Bridge chips – either the i5 or i7 versions, RAM can go up to 16GB and the hard drives are flash-based, going up to 768GB. The same Nvidia Kepler graphics are used with the GeForce GT 650M chip, and despite this power Apple says 7 hours of battery life can be achieved.

Connectivity comes in the form of two Thunderbolt ports, an SD card slot, a MagSafe 2 adaptor for power, HDMI out, a headphone jack and two USB 3.0 ports – one on each side. There’s no FireWire 800 or Ethernet ports, but Apple will offer adaptors for both that slot into the dual Thunderbolt ports.

Polishing off an impressive spec sheet are Wi-Fi 802.11 n, Bluetooth 4.0, dual microphones, a HD FaceTime camera and ‘the best stereo speakers Apple has ever put into a notebook’.

Apple has priced this beauty from $2199 – a fair amount more than the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro. This model includes 8GB of RAM, the 2.3GHz quad-core i7 processor and 256GB of flash storage. The 13-inch model will cost £999, the 15-inch is £1549 and the 17-inch is £2099,  and they’ll be available today.

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